We live in an overprotective society. Our children seemed to be wrapped in bubble wrap as we try to prevent them from any physical or emotional harm. We love our kids and that’s great. There’s no shame or fault in that. However, our need to protect and shield our children can be more damaging than helpful.
Recently my wife and I bought our four-year-old son a new bike with training wheels on it. He had outgrown his motorcycle tricycle and thought he was ready to try a new “big kid” bike. My wife asked if I thought he was ready and I said, “we’ll find out soon enough.” Much to our surprise it took only a few short lessons and trips around the neighborhood, but he really has the hang of it.
One part of the trip around the neighborhood involves a rather steep incline. At first, he could only peddle a few feet and I would provide the push up the hill. He would tell us, “Mommy, daddy, my legs are hurting.” We laughed and told him that when your legs are hurting it means your muscles are getting bigger and stronger. Rather than let him walk and carry his bike for him, we encouraged him to try hard. I asked him, “Do we ever give up?” and he said, “No, we try hard and try again.” That was a proud daddy moment. On Wednesday, we took our normal bike ride around the neighborhood, and much to my surprise he made up the hill with only two slight pushes of assistance from me. I was impressed and he was very proud, saying, “Daddy I’ve got big muscles.”
When learning to ride a bike there will inevitably be a few falls, bumps, bruises, and scrapes. The temptation during these times is to overprotect our children. We hate to see them in pain. The worst thing we can do though is allow fear to overcome. Our child we be fearful of falling again, and we’ll be fearful of them getting hurt worse. In life we are going to encounter many situations which will invoke fear. How we handle fear will determine our success. As parents our number job is to protect our children and help them grow. What we instill at a young age matters and will carry on with our children for the rest of their lives. If we truly want what’s best for our children we will not shield them from bumps, bruises, discomfort, or failure.
I’d like to end with a story on a boy and a butterfly to illustrate this week’s topic and lesson.
There was a boy who came across a butterfly trying to break through it’s cocoon. The boy watched for a few minutes as the butterfly struggled mightily to emerge from the cocoon. He couldn’t stand to watch the butterfly struggle anymore, so he decided to lend a helping hand. The boy gently broke the shell and carefully pulled it apart so the beautiful butterfly could emerge. However, when the butterfly did emerge it did not appear anything like the boy had imagined. The butterfly had small, shriveled wings, and a bloated body. The boy expected this would change rather quickly and the butterfly would begin to fly. But it never happened. The butterfly never took flight and it died crawling around with shriveled wings and a bloated body. Later the boy learned that the butterfly is supposed to struggle. Through the struggle the fluid from its body is pushed into it’s wings, allowing them to develop the strength needed to fly.
The lesson here is to let our children experience discomfort and encourage them to try their best. When they do, you and your child will be impressed and proud.
As we go throughout life, remember that struggling is an important part of the process.The struggle is what develops our ability to fly.
Our gift as parents, teachers, and coaches to our kids is stronger wings.
As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!
Coach Elmendorf is available to speak to your team, organization, or group. Please message him for details.